As a new study finds that the number of young adults living with their parents has risen dramatically in the last two decades, Stylist meets the women who are thriving back at home
When you were growing up, did you ever lie in bed imagining what your adult life would look like?
If you did, it’s probably a safe bet that somewhere in that mental picture was your own flat/house/mansion/penthouse in Manhattan (hey, dream big). For most women now in their 20s and 30s, staying under our parents’ roofs well into adulthood just wasn’t part of the plan.
Yet faced with bleed-you-dry rents and impossible property prices, many modern British women are finding that moving back home – or never leaving at all – is the most practical option. According to a new study by cross-party thinktank Civitas, nearly a million more young adults now live with their parents in England and Wales than was the case 20 years ago. The research, which looked at data from the Office of National Statistics, shows that 3.4 million people aged 20 to 34 lived with their parents in 2017, up from 2.4 million in 1997.
It’s undeniable that much more needs to be done to help British millennials access affordable rents and get on the property ladder. But while many women would shudder at the prospect of sharing a bathroom with the people who potty-trained them, others find moving home to be a surprisingly supportive and mutually beneficial experience.
In her 2017 photo series Boomerang Women, photographer Emily Macinnes set out to capture these positive stories. She visited different “boomerang women” at home with their families over the course of a few weeks to create the photo series, produced in collaboration with first direct.
Macinnes was particularly interested in the way that mother-daughter relationships shift once the latter is no longer a little girl.
“Having moved back home myself when I left university, I experienced first-hand how the dynamics between parent and child develops into a much deeper relationship based on respect and friendship,” said the 27-year-old documentary photographer, who’s based in Glasgow.
“Spending time with so many different boomerang families over the past few weeks has confirmed how positive and enriching it can be to move back home, despite the often-negative social connotations.”
Below, four of the women featured in Macinnes’ photographs share their stories of living at home.
Emma, 26: “We have dinner together most evenings”
“I rented in London for a few years, but a lot of my friends and family were still in the North. Moving back means I’m now spending a lot less time and money travelling to see everyone.
My younger brothers George and Oliver are also back at home, which means our house is full of friends, family energy and life, which I love. I think my Mum likes the fact we’re all under one roof again too!
We all have busy lives but despite that, we manage to have dinner together most evenings after a lot of texting to figure out who’s in and who’s cooking.”
Sheree, 23: “It’s the emotional side of home that I appreciate”
“Since I boomeranged home to West London, it’s safe to say my Mum and I have become firm friends. We spend a couple of evenings together each week, either at home cooking, watching TV in our pyjamas, or meeting up for a drink.
Moving home was the obvious choice for me when landed a new job in London. As well as being an easy commute, being at home means I can start to save to buy my own place too.
But it’s the emotional side of being at home that I appreciate the most. I live with someone I truly love and know that when my mum asks how her day has been, it’s because she genuinely wants to know.”
Louise, 23: “I’ve been settling into my career and saving for a house”
“After graduating I was faced with the choice of renting with friends or moving back home to Manchester. I decided that moving home was by far the most feasible, and appealing, option.
I landed a dream post-graduate job and have been using the time at home to settle into my career and also save enough money to buy my own house with my boyfriend, who is also living with his parents.
As well as being able to save, I get to benefit from the home comforts and support of my mum and Andy, who are always on hand to offer advice and rescue me in car-related emergencies! In return, I offer advice and hints from the latest YouTube beauty vlogs, which my mum loves.”
Jordanne, 26: “It gives me headspace and freedom”
“I first moved back after graduating, and this is now my third time at home. Living with my parents in Yorkshire has given me the freedom and headspace to think about the future and work out what I really want to do, without having to make any long-term commitments straight-away.
I’ve been able to try out different things. I have lived with a friend for a year and also saved up for a trip to Australia.
Obviously we all have our own interests and social circles, but we sit together every night for dinner, and all appreciate the close network of support and friendship. So much so that my little sister Olivia, who is studying in London, often turns up unannounced too.”
This article was originally published on 26 January 2017 and has been updated to include the Civitas statistics.
Images: Emily Macinnes